Frank Castle (a.k.a. The Punisher) is hunting down a group selling high tech weapons that are tearing up his streets. After finding a location where a sale is happening, he makes an entrance and annihilates everyone except for the seller Cain. You have to keep one alive for questioning after all. After a “polite conversation” he manages to get a location out of him and is dragging him off for more information, maybe, and is interrupted by Black Widow.
We soon discover that S.H.I.E.L.D. was investigating Cain as part of a bigger operation to take down the terrorist organization, Leviathan. Punisher cuts a deal with Nick Fury to join the mission so he can get Cain and goes with Black Widow to find the weapons and suppliers. At the location Cain happily provided to Punisher before he escaped, they stumble across hundreds of bodies in pods being reconditioned to become stronger and act at the command of the highest bidder. Getting rid of one gun runner is the least of their problems.
Avengers Confidential: Black Widow & Punisher is the second straight-to-DVD movie in their Marvel Anime line. This movie came out years after their four short lived anime series went off air (R.I.P. G4).
Being a big anime fan, I am in love with this style and animation. The art is bright, vibrant, and colors give more depth than you will normally see in western cartoons. The design of the characters is very Japanese in how they view Americans. It is almost videogame like in character design from character to character akin to Dead or Alive. The Punisher, being an ex-Marine and bruiser, is built much like a football player. Black Widow, being the superspy, is thin and
stacked svelte like a konoichi (that means lady ninja in Japanese – Life Lessons from Mal).
In the same line, the hand to hand fights are awesome, but scarcer than they should be. The first fight between Black Widow and The Punisher is dynamic and is a big difference from their previous movies. Her acrobatics are reminiscent of Naruto. She dances around him while dodging bullets and breaking holds.
The Punisher’s fighting reminds me of Christian Bale’s moves in Equilibrium plus Sam Fisher from the Splinter Cell game series. The camera changes and follows the muzzle of the gun as he fires to being like tied around her ankle and moving with her as she moves like a feather. There is another with Castle within S.H.I.E.L.D. that is cool, but they left me wanting even more.
The Punisher is voiced by Brian Bloom who does a lot of voice acting work for a lot of movies, television and games. His experience in the industry really shows in his performance. Bloom does a great job in making Punisher sound more like a troubled man on a mission following his own sense of justice versus an angry ex-soldier out to destroy the world. That takes real skill considering that Castle walks that thin line. After killing three S.H.I.E.L.D. agents under the influence of mind control at the time, you can hear the remorse and sadness in his voice as he surrenders himself to the next agents to enter. This was a “Save the Cat” moment that endeared you to this walking tank that puts no one above his sense of justice…not even himself.
Black Widow is voiced by Jennifer Carpenter who you might remember as Debra Morgan of Dexter fame. Her voice acting resume is not as long as Blooms, but she definitely holds her own as Agent Romanoff. She sounds strong and confident in her skills as a spy almost bordering on arrogant as well as determined to complete her mission. The best examples are probably her first fights with The Punisher. The first was showing off her skills and fearlessness even when The Punisher has two guns aimed and firing upon her. They also make an effort to make her less of the superspy and to show her vulnerable side when she discovers a lover of hers, whom she believed to be dead, is alive and working for Leviathan. She hesitates and pulls her punches, which is odd for Black Widow, but Carpenter brings this out perfectly in her portrayal.
There isn’t a lot to say about him, but Nick Fury is in this movie and sounds like Sam Jackson. He was actually voiced by John Eric Bentley and he does well. His performance does make me want to see another movie centered around Nick Fury unless The Hoff is the lead, however he would be an awesome cameo. It can’t be that hard to have a mission in Germany, right?
As a big DC fan, I will admit that I found this entry from Marvel Anime awesomely entertaining. The animation in Avengers Confidential: Black Widow & Punisher was great, the story was interesting, and the characters endearing. This is a must see for any comic book or anime fan. If you just appreciate good animation and want to see what can be done, this is a great example of how far they have evolved and how much further they can go (hint to DC…make a Green Lantern: Blackest Night animé). Hopefully Marvel will make more movies in the Avengers Confidential series and finally kill the Marvel Knights motion comics.